A volcano threatens the Philippines. Authorities are evacuating thousands of people in the danger zone (within a five-mile radius) of Mount Mayon as lava began to trickle out of the crater on Tuesday. The alert level has been raised to critical; scientists predict the volcano could violently erupt within weeks. Some 12,000 families are estimated to live in the danger zone.
Ukraine gives its rebels a longer leash. The country’s parliament has given the separatist-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions “special status,” with temporary self-rule for three years, and granted amnesty to some of the rebels. Ukraine also ratified a trade agreement (the same one that sparked the crisis in the region last year) that deepened its ties with the the European Union.
Ebola merits more US troops than ISIL. US president Barack Obama will today order 3,000 troops to West Africa in an effort to contain the outbreak. The US plan also includes building 17 new healthcare facilities with 100 beds in each, training up to 500 workers a week, and opening a joint command operation in Liberia’s capital to coordinate international efforts. China is also sending more medics to Sierra Leone to help with lab testing.
What currency trading scandal? In an attempt to pre-empt US and UK regulators’ probes into the alleged rigging of currency benchmarks, several big banks have cut off their foreign-exchange dealers’ access to customer orders and online chat rooms, Bloomberg reports. The aim is to make it tougher for dealers to collude, manipulate markets, and improperly use client information.
Russia’s biggest email provider buys its biggest social network. Mail.ru, Russia’s most popular provider of web-based email, said this morning that it had bought the 48% of VKontakte that it did not already own. The Mail.ru group already owns Russia’s second-most popular social network, Odnoklassniki. It is also looking to expand outside Russia, particularly in the US.
Boeing takes the lead over SpaceX. NASA is reportedly likely to announce that the US aerospace giant is “the least risky option” (paywall) compared with two smaller rivals who also vying for the lucrative contract to ferry US astronauts to the International Space Station. The Wall Street Journal reports that Elon Musk’s SpaceX had been previously seen as a favorite “because of its lower costs and nimbler approach.”
UK leaders woo Scotland. Conservative prime minister David Cameron, Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and Labour leader Ed Miliband made a new promise for powers for Scotland if it rejects independence. The secession referendum takes place on Thursday.
The US is divided between those who say “uh” and those who say “um.” The regional breakdown can be detected from Twitter usage. Here’s a map of who says what where.